Commenting on the announcement by the Department of Education of investment in school buildings in England, Alex Green, Project Lead for the Let’s Go Zero campaign, said: “We welcome any new funding that supports desperately-needed improvements across the school estate but we can’t just be replacing like for like. We need to see robust plans from DfE in regard to future proofing schools and action that will lead all schools to be zero carbon.”
The Let’s Go Zero Campaign itself announced today that it has passed the milestone of being supported by over 2,000 schools teaching 1 million students around the UK. The campaign aims to show government and policy makers the growing demand for change, as well as support and showcase the fantastic actions lots of schools are already taking to get to zero.
Let’s Go Zero has been working directly with the Department for Education to set targets for schools between 2025 and 2035, and was named in last year’s Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy for its support in doing so. Four of Let’s Go Zero’s policy recommendations were included in the strategy, a huge achievement demonstrating the government is sitting up and listening to the demands and ambition of our school leaders.
The schools' campaign has been vocal in calling for the government to be more ambitious and provide schools with the means to decarbonise quickly.
Alex Green said: “Let’s Go Zero will continue to push for the government to commit funding for every school in the country to be retrofitted.
“A huge amount of energy, and money, is wasted by schools each year because of old boiler systems, old and draughty properties, and the lack of funds to make improvements. Whilst there are actions schools can take to cut costs and carbon, for long term solutions, the government must commit to adapting and retrofitting each school across the UK.”
The urgency with which retrofitting funding needs to be found is highlighted in the DfE’s annual report, in which it was reported that the risk level of school buildings collapsing has been raised to ‘very likely’. This follows an increase in the number of serious structural issues being reported, particularly in buildings built between 1945 and 1970.
Ms Green continued: "As these buildings come to the end of their designed life-expectancy, their structural integrity is diminished, and their risk of collapse increased. Funding to repair and retrofit these dilapidated buildings, as well as the whole school estate, must be a government priority."
Extending the life of crumbling buildings by careful monitoring and maintenance, one pathway suggested by the DfE, is not a long-term solution. Keeping children safe and keeping in line with the country’s carbon ambitions requires bold action for every school, as called for by Let’s Go Zero.